GSMA wraps MWC21 with 20K in-person attendees

Next year's event is expected to be much more akin to normal when MWC convenes in Barcelona. (Pixabay)

The GSMA wrapped up its annual Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona, Spain, last week, attracting more than 20,000 in-person attendees.

That’s a far cry from the pre-Covid days when more than 100,000 people attended, but organizers (and many attendees) are hailing it a success. The organization reported that around 100,000 unique virtual and daily viewers to its partner programs and the event, which was both physical and virtual from June 28 to July 1.

The organization had been aiming to attract 35,000 in-person attendees from around the globe. In April, the GSMA announced that it had reached a deal with the Spanish government to allow MWC21 registrants to enter Spain for the purpose of doing business there. So, considering the obstacles during a pandemic still sweeping across the globe, the event earned its spot in the history books.

The GSMA said the health and safety plan was critical in bringing people together safely, and “its elements were seen and felt everywhere.” Indeed, attendees posted Covid testing station photos on Twitter, as impressive as the short cab lines.)  

While during “normal” years, the event attracted visitors from about 200 countries, the scaled-back event drew representatives from around 165 countries and territories, with 117 of those in-person. More than 1,000 exhibitors, sponsors and partners participated, according to GSMA.

Last year, the GMSA canceled the premiere Barcelona event due to Covid-19 and this year, it was scheduled later than it’s normally scheduled time. Some big themes reigned despite the lower attendance, such as the cloud and AT&T’s deal with Microsoft, as well as myriad relationships with AWS and the movement around open Radio Access Network (RAN).

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Of course, it’s already time to plan for the next scheduled MWC, which will be held February 28 through March 3, 2022, a return to the traditional time on the calendar for the Barcelona extravaganza.

The GMSA reports that it’s already received support from a number of companies planning to attend and exhibit, including Amdocs, Dell Technologies. Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, Intel, Lenovo Technology, LG Uplus, NEC, Netcracker Technology, Nokia, Ooredoo, Orange, Qualcomm Technologies, Samsung Electronics, SAP, Saudi Telecom, SK Telecom, TCT Mobile, Telefonica, Verizon, VMWare, Xiaomi and ZTE.

Before that, however, the industry has the event in Los Angeles to look forward to, and that takes place October 26-28. Items on the agenda include 5G, IoT connectivity, telco cloud and “disrupted innovation.”

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CTIA will again host its “Everything Policy” track with U.S. policymakers and wireless industry stakeholders discussing trends and developments in government.